An Update for 17 Year Old Tina

This is a letter I wrote for myself my senior year of high school on March 14th, 2015 (Pi Day if you non-science people didn’t know). I will be responding with a letter back down below, but I think reading the first letter will help. Hope you enjoy. 

[17 year old Tina writing to Future Tina]

Dear Future Tina,

I hope things are going well. I hope you found a passion. If you haven’t yet, it’s okay we’ll find out eventually. I do hope that you still want to be a doctor. Even if you still feel like you’re not good enough or up for the challenge, I believe that we have it in us to do it. You want to save lives and help people, you know it.

I wonder if you’re still with Matthew. If you are, then gosh darn all that worrying was for nothing right? If you aren’t, well I know how you feel. Maybe. It could be worse or it could be not as bad. But no mountain is too big to pass, so eventually we will see the mountain in our rearview mirror. Move on. Let go. Focus on yourself and improving yourself for the people around you. Also, if you still keep in contact with him that’s good. If you don’t, maybe keep him around because he was still an amazing friend.

But also, if you still are with him I’m proud of you. (You should probably not be reading this part if you’re not with him anymore). You probably still went through some hard times due to that overthinking habit we have. We should really fix that. I hope you’ve been busier than me so you don’t have to do it as much. But yeah I hope that if you are still with him that you’re truly happy. Remember the good times and don’t linger on the not as good times. He truly loves you. Even currently, I know that he does and I don’t think it’ll fade.

Also, I hope your self esteem has risen somewhat and you have found good friends that really help you. Stay connected with them; I know that can be hard for us but just try at least. You are an amazing person and it is great that all you want is the best for others. But don’t forget about yourself. You deserve more than you think. Chase after the things that you want. Don’t let other people steal it away from you. Be ambitious, a badass, and just awesome. Be swag as dear Matthew has said time and time again. I know all of this is easier typed out than actually put into action, but try. You never know what will come out of it. Probably good things. I hope it’s good things.

Just go for the best version of yourself. Someone that you’re proud of, someone that I (your younger self) will definitely look up to and look forward to becoming. Don’t change because someone is forcing you to, change because you want to for the better. Can’t wait to see what it’s like to be you. You better be fucking awesome because I know we can be fucking awesome.

With love and hope,

Tina from 3.14.15 PI Day

[Response from 20 year old Tina to 17 year old Tina]

Hey 17 year old Tina. How you doing girl?

First of all, I’m impressed that we had this much wisdom in high school. I feel like I just learned these things, but apparently you knew more than we thought you knew. It’s cool that we always believed in ourselves, but how that translated into our life has changed significantly. A trio of self-confidence, self-reliance, and self-love has transformed how I live our life. It’s crazy how much has changed, and it’s definitely changed for the better.

Here’s why life is so great my dude.

Dude I found them. I found our passions. I’ve found too many maybe. You know how you weren’t so sure about which major you wanted? Well there is a reason why. I started college with the intent to major in biology. It was fun but it was also really challenging to get through so many biology and chemistry classes at once. However pretty recently, I have discovered our passion for engineering. I already made it officially the plan to graduate in 2020 with a major in both Biological Sciences and Bioengineering specifically with a career path in Biomedical Engineering. I’m actually still figuring out if I want to do Biomechanical instead, but there’s a bit of time left before I have to finalize that. After taking these first couple of engineering classes, I have realized that we like math. We have always liked math. I really appreciate math for what it does and how straightforward it can be. I doubt I will appreciate it as much when I take Ordinary Differential Equations, but for now I truly enjoy learning everything from statics, programming, and more. Vectors are cool. I like them a lot.

I also have found all these other passions too. I work at a community center now, and honestly it was a significant part of helping me grow as a person. I have developed myself significantly as an individual person and as a professional. I feel pretty confident in my capabilities now. But from everything I learned while working, there is a passion growing inside of me to break the barrier of stereotypes and misunderstanding between our Pacific campus and the Stockton community. Don’t let Stockton stereotypes get to you because there are so many good and loving people here. You just have to have the courage and openness to get to know them. I absolutely love both the Stockton and Pacific community, and my passion is blurring the lines between the two communities and hopefully one day merging them into one.

I guess if I’m being honest, our truest and biggest passion is caring for people. Your heart to help others was, is, and will always be there. Even with all the anxiety and depression you have, I promise that you still are making a positive impact even though you may not be deliberately trying. This love to help others will grow over the years, and you will experience a lot of hurt and unrequited love. You’ll cry yourself to sleep some nights and every now and then feel that lack of love like a heavy weight pulling your heart into the depths of the darkness. However, in hindsight it will all still be worth it. You will have to learn how to express love to the right people because if you do those people will fill your days with laughter, joy, and love. Every day when you see them, there is not a doubt in your mind that they care about you and your well-being. These days, Amaris, Adam, and Andy have been those people for me. I’m so excited for when you meet them because they will be the friends you’ve been looking for. Among all the excessive laughter and jokes, they will be there to make sure you’re okay, and that’s why you want them in your life. But everything is a double-edged sword, so there will be some people who don’t care about you, and you will learn that that is perfectly okay. But those people I mentioned prior… they will give you back the love you deserve. And you deserve love my dear.

One of the most important kinds of love is self-love, and the self-love I’ve cultivated in the past couple of years for us has been incredible. Our potential is insane, and when I finally realized that I did with it as much as I could. And you wouldn’t believe how much we’ve done. I’ve been killing it, and it truly is thanks to the fact that I took the initiative to take care of myself in terms of mental health. I’ve been to therapy and have had so many conversations where I discovered that so many people around me suffer through similar struggles. After conquering anxiety and depression the first few times, I’ve been sharing my struggle and how I overcame it with as many people as I can. Taking the lessons I learned in the darkness, and bringing them to light has been a key tool in spreading the positivity that I have in abundance. Through this, a passion that I’ve developed is spreading the awareness of how important mental health can be. This is kind of what the blog I started has been for.

Oh! You start a blog haha.

Thanks to Kevin for encouraging me to start this beautiful outlet for thoughtful writing and mind dumping. I have thoroughly enjoyed putting my extremely detailed and intricate thought processes into these writing pieces. I remember you used to attempt poetry any opportunity you had and personal essays were a breeze when we were younger. Now, it’s a nice break to take some time to really think and write amidst all the chaos and fun of life. I finally put all that creative energy and emotional angst to good use.

I really believe you would be proud. You would look forward to being where I am, and I believe there’s still room for us to improve. You’re only 17 and I’m only 20, but who knows what 23 year old Tina will be like. I’ll probably write a letter to her too. But for now, we’ve come such a long way with major improvements and an abundance of love and support from myself and our wonderful friends (old and new).

Yes. I am fucking awesome. Thank you for believing in that even a little bit despite all the bullshit your anxiety and depression told you. I’m proud of you. I’m proud of us.

With love and pride,

Tina Aivi Phan 3.4.18

I could of posted on 3.14.18 to make it a three years later post, but I’m too impatient to wait, and I haven’t posted in a long time. FIGHT ME.







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